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Saturday, December 2, 2017

“The Promise of David”

Psalm 89:19-37

The ancient world lived in fear of chaos. The universal picture of the world before creation (including that found in the Bible) is of a “formless void” and “darkness” over the deep. It is a picture of dark formless, watery world. Many believed that sea monsters dwelt in that darkness (Ps. 74:12-17).  The mythical gods feared this darkness. They fought against it. People lived in fear of the idea that the chaos and darkness could return and life would end. The Roman myth of Mithras was based on the idea that the sun-god would be reborn annually on the shortest day of the year which for them was December 25. Otherwise the days would continue to get shorter until complete darkness returned. The true God overcame all these fears. He could be pictured symbolically as the one who kills the sea monster (Isa. 27:1). Early Christians celebrated the birth of Christ on the birth date of the Roman sun-god, Dec. 25.

As we have seen God is bringing about a new creation after the destruction of the flood.  Unlike the false gods the true God does not demand sacrifices to be appeased. The Law of Moses called for sacrifices but that was not God’s priority. The God who revealed himself to Abraham is a God of promise, a God of grace, who desires mercy not sacrifice (Hosea 6:6).

This is made abundantly clear in this text which focuses on David. David is the recipient of great promises. We know that he is a person after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:14). That however is not the reason he is chosen. God pledges his “faithfulness and steadfast love (mercy)” to him. God will judge his descendants when they disobey. God will judge David for his disobedience. However, in the words of the apostle Paul, “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). God does not dismiss the chaos as he did at the first creation. In the new creation in Jesus Christ God works through the chaos and darkness. This is an unbelievable act of reconciliation (II Cor. 5:17-18). God acts supremely through David’s greatest sin to prepare the world for the coming of Christ. Jesus will be the “son of David.” This is the God we should expect through this Advent season.  We need have no fear of chaos and darkness. God is present in them working out his plan of new life in Jesus Christ.

Eternal and loving God, may I not fear the darkness and chaos around me. May I trust always in your promises. I thank you that your steadfast love endures forever. in Jesus’ name, Amen.